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Thread: Strings for A-tuning a tenor

  1. #1
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    Default Strings for A-tuning a tenor

    I have one of my tenor ukes that I keep tuned E-A-C#-F# (A-tuning, low E). I'm using regular tenor strings now. They are not floppy & they sound good. However, tenor strings are made with GCEA tuning in mind, so I wonder if (IN THEORY) I might get better sound by up-tuning Baritone strings instead of down-tuning tenor strings. To wit:

    Tenor strings low-G C E A minus 3 half-steps ==> E-A-C#-F#

    Baritone strings D G B E plus 2 half steps ==>E-A-C#-F#

    I will appreciate any & all comments.

  2. #2
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    Thought I'd try a little "string math" to see what could come close. I used the contents of the Aquila Nylgut string packages for Tenor Low-G, Baritone GCEA and Baritone DGBE for this problem.

    The interesting thing between the Tenor and Baritone packaged sets is that the string gauges used (albeit for different notes) are either the same or darned close. The main difference is in the tension levels. As an example, the Tenor A is .67mm @ 6.7kg tension, and the Baritone GCEA E is .67mm @ 5.3kg tension. Also, the Tenor E is .84mm @ 5.9kg, and the Baritone DGBE B is .84 mm @ 4.7kg.

    Across the board, one seems to find that string tensions on a Tenor are 25% greater than on a Baritone. So, getting a Baritone string set and tuning upward (increasing tension) instead of getting a Tenor set and tuning downward (decreasing tension) seem to make no difference, since for the most part the same string gauges (or close to it) are used in both string sets.

    My thanks to JustStrings.com for publishing the string gauges and tension levels for the Aquila (and other) string sets. Having that data is quite helpful.

    So, IMHO if what works now without a capo sounds okay, be happy.
    ...SteveZ

    Ukuleles: Oscar Schmidt OU28T (T8), Lanikai LU-6 (T6), RISA Solid (C), Effin UkeStart (C), Flea (S)**
    Banjo-Ukes: Duke 10 (T)*, Lanikai LB6-S (S)*
    Tenor Guitars: Martin TEN515, Blueridge BR-40T
    Tenor Banjo: Deering Goodtime 17-Fret
    Mandolin: Burgess (#7)***

    * CGDA reentrant, **DAEB, ***GDAE, The rest are CGDA

    The inventory is always in some flux, but that's part of the fun.

  3. #3
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    If the bari strings fit the tenor nut, then yes, that should work. Tension on the tenor should be virtually the same. Think about putting a capo at the second fret on your baritone. Now you're at EAC#F# at pretty much tenor scale.

    If you're interested in reentrant A on tenor, I have that with the World of Ukes Clarity strings which are supposed to be really high tension for gCEA but I like them at eAC#F#
    Ukulele:
    Iriguchi Tenor "Weeble" - A, WoU Clarity
    Blue Star 19" baritone Konablaster - DGBE
    Cocobolo 16" SC#1-gCEA, SC SLMU
    Ono #42 19" baritone, Ab, LW
    Imua iET-Bb, M600
    Covered Bridge CLN pineapple - Eb cuatro, SC XLL
    Rogue bari
    Bonanza super tenor, cFAD SC LHU
    Kala KSLNG, Eb SC XLU
    Hanson 5-string tenor, dGCEA
    Bonanza SLN GCEA
    Bonanzalele concert
    Guitars:
    Jupiter #47, G, TI CF127
    Pelem, A, EJ45LP

    !Flukutronic!

  4. #4
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    @Steve -- I enjoyed your detailed & VERY interesting analysis. I am surprised that tenor & barry stings are so similar.

    @Jim -- I'm happy to learn that I'm not the only one who likes A-tuning. OTOH, I am not a fan of reentrant tuning (I enjoy the tummy massage from a low #4). Neither am I a fan of using a capo (it sounds too much like "capon": an emasculated rooster.)

    By the way, my A-tuned tenor uke is a Fender Montecito - solid koa top, laminated koa B&S. It is a beautiful, under-priced uke (I got this 1, brand new via Reverb, for $188, FOB Hawaii).

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by ubulele View Post
    For linear A tuning, even better might be a set for a "1/4 scale" guitar (roughly 19"); use the upper four strings..
    FWIW, I can attest the low g Living Water tenor set worked great for Linear A on a 19" Bruko baritone.
    Ukulele:
    Iriguchi Tenor "Weeble" - A, WoU Clarity
    Blue Star 19" baritone Konablaster - DGBE
    Cocobolo 16" SC#1-gCEA, SC SLMU
    Ono #42 19" baritone, Ab, LW
    Imua iET-Bb, M600
    Covered Bridge CLN pineapple - Eb cuatro, SC XLL
    Rogue bari
    Bonanza super tenor, cFAD SC LHU
    Kala KSLNG, Eb SC XLU
    Hanson 5-string tenor, dGCEA
    Bonanza SLN GCEA
    Bonanzalele concert
    Guitars:
    Jupiter #47, G, TI CF127
    Pelem, A, EJ45LP

    !Flukutronic!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by ubulele View Post
    You may have misunderstood me: I meant that a 1/4 guitar set should work for putting a 17" tenor into A tuning.
    Right, I got you. I was just presenting another option, but I probably just confused the issue since my option was for A tuning on 19" scale and OP is talking 17" tenor. Thanks for pointing that out
    Ukulele:
    Iriguchi Tenor "Weeble" - A, WoU Clarity
    Blue Star 19" baritone Konablaster - DGBE
    Cocobolo 16" SC#1-gCEA, SC SLMU
    Ono #42 19" baritone, Ab, LW
    Imua iET-Bb, M600
    Covered Bridge CLN pineapple - Eb cuatro, SC XLL
    Rogue bari
    Bonanza super tenor, cFAD SC LHU
    Kala KSLNG, Eb SC XLU
    Hanson 5-string tenor, dGCEA
    Bonanza SLN GCEA
    Bonanzalele concert
    Guitars:
    Jupiter #47, G, TI CF127
    Pelem, A, EJ45LP

    !Flukutronic!

  7. #7
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    I did a test with 3 neighbors. I had 1 Fender tenor tuned C & another tuned A. All 3 neighbors listened to the ukes to judge which sounded better. A-tuning won, 3-0.

    The following "conventional" keys are easy with A-tuning: A, B, E, F#, G. NOT so easy are C & D keys -- especially because I hate using a capon (er... capo). So, when I need to play in either of those 2 keys, I switch to a C-tuned uke. Is there a better solution (sans capo)?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hanks View Post
    FWIW, I can attest the low g Living Water tenor set worked great for Linear A on a 19" Bruko baritone.
    I worry that tenor strings might be too short for my oversized Pono baritone (Scale length - 21.4" ). Comments?
    Last edited by bellgamin; 01-14-2020 at 11:12 AM. Reason: typos

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by bellgamin View Post
    I worry that tenor strings might be too short for my oversized Pono baritone (Scale length - 21.4" ). Comments?
    You'd have to check with Ken Middleton to be sure. I'm sure he could make you a custom set if the standard set is too short. But at that scale length, you'd be back in DGBE territory. You might even be able to down tune to CFAD
    Ukulele:
    Iriguchi Tenor "Weeble" - A, WoU Clarity
    Blue Star 19" baritone Konablaster - DGBE
    Cocobolo 16" SC#1-gCEA, SC SLMU
    Ono #42 19" baritone, Ab, LW
    Imua iET-Bb, M600
    Covered Bridge CLN pineapple - Eb cuatro, SC XLL
    Rogue bari
    Bonanza super tenor, cFAD SC LHU
    Kala KSLNG, Eb SC XLU
    Hanson 5-string tenor, dGCEA
    Bonanza SLN GCEA
    Bonanzalele concert
    Guitars:
    Jupiter #47, G, TI CF127
    Pelem, A, EJ45LP

    !Flukutronic!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hanks View Post
    You'd have to check with Ken Middleton to be sure. I'm sure he could make you a custom set if the standard set is too short. But at that scale length, you'd be back in DGBE territory. You might even be able to down tune to CFAD
    Honest questions: Why would I want to tune it to CFAD? Have you ever tuned a baritone that low? If so, how did it sound with respect to: (a) quality? (b) volume?

    By the way, my oversized Pono still has the original barry strings, uptuned to A-tuning. It sings!!! Just don't ask me to play key of C. (I can do it, but high-pitched with no open strings -- it's like a church choir when all the male voice are absent. Blah!)
    Last edited by bellgamin; 01-14-2020 at 01:19 PM. Reason: reworded a sentence

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by bellgamin View Post
    Honest questions: Why would I want to tune it to CFAD? Have you ever tuned a baritone that low? If so, how did it sound with respect to: (a) quality? (b) volume?

    By the way, my oversized Pono still has the original barry strings, uptuned to A-tuning. It sings!!! Just don't ask me to play key of C. (I can do it, but high-pitched with no open strings -- it's like a church choir when all the male voice are absent. Blah!)
    I was thinking the longer scale might be too high tension at DGBE but I guess that's not an issue if you have it a step higher.

    I do have a super tenor at reentrant cFAD tuning just for the variety. It sounds nice but is very quiet on this uke.
    Ukulele:
    Iriguchi Tenor "Weeble" - A, WoU Clarity
    Blue Star 19" baritone Konablaster - DGBE
    Cocobolo 16" SC#1-gCEA, SC SLMU
    Ono #42 19" baritone, Ab, LW
    Imua iET-Bb, M600
    Covered Bridge CLN pineapple - Eb cuatro, SC XLL
    Rogue bari
    Bonanza super tenor, cFAD SC LHU
    Kala KSLNG, Eb SC XLU
    Hanson 5-string tenor, dGCEA
    Bonanza SLN GCEA
    Bonanzalele concert
    Guitars:
    Jupiter #47, G, TI CF127
    Pelem, A, EJ45LP

    !Flukutronic!

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